Peter Vodanovich is two from two at Highlands Motorsport Park after another thriller in the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship.
Having claimed a close win over Jaden Ransley in Race 1 of the weekend, it was the Christchurch kid who took the advantage in Race 2.
From pole position, Ransley led way. However, a quick start from third-placed Vodanovich saw him sprint down the inside on the grass to get by Connor Adam into the Bus Stop Chicane.
Adam slotted into third with Campell Stewart fourth ahead of Jaylyn Robotham in fifth.
Vodanovich was quick to put pressure on Ransley for the race lead. Halfway through Lap 1, he looked left and right into the Turn 14 hairpin and then into the entry of the bridge. However, a pass wasn’t forthcoming.
There was drama at the end of Lap 1 when Andrew Jackson went off the road after the bridge. Moments later there was contact between Brock Gilchrist and Richard Peasey. Connor Davison hit the stranded car of Peasey and suffered significant damage to the nose of his car. Both Peasey and Davison returned to the pit lane, the latter forced to retire.
At the end of Lap 1, it was Ransley who led Vodanovich, Adam, Stewart and Robotham. Brock Gilchrist lay sixth with Ryan Wood up to seventh, Justin Allen eighth, James Wilkins ninth and Brayden Phillips the last of the top 10 runners.
Much like the first race, Ransley and Vodanovich split themselves from the rest of the field. Adam, Stewart and Robotham battled among themselves.
It looked as if Vodanovich’s car came on strong early in the race, but as the race wore on he fell backwards. Fortunately, he was given a reprieve when Ransley made a mistake with six laps to go at the esses.
Vodanovich took the lead and Ransley fell into the clutches of Adam, Stewart and Robotham. However, he quickly recovered and began hustling his way back onto the rear of Vodanovich.
In the final few laps of the race, Ransley got back on equal terms with the leader. Despite his best efforts, Ransley couldn’t find a way through.
Further behind, Robotham made his way past Stewart for fourth on approach to the bridge. Not long after that, he made a mistake at the esses and went through the run-off, passing Adam. He quickly gave the position back but pressed on and managed to make a pass once again at the hairpin.
Ultimately, Vodanovich claimed the win from Ransley and Robotham in a distant third place. Further behind, Gilchrist was sixth, Wood seventh, Peasey eighth, Allen ninth and Wilkins the last top 10 runner.
“That was a bit crazy,” Vodanovich said.
“I was lucky to get second off the line so I was really happy with that. Jaden made a mistake, which he doesn’t make often. I’m really happy to capitalise on that.
“I was surprised he caught up so quickly, to be honest,” he said of the late-race surge from Ransley.
“He definitely had some good pace, it was an awesome race.”
For Ransley, it was an opportunity missed.
“We had a great start and Peter got in behind me. Coming into Turn 3 and 4 I went from second instead of fourth [gear] and went through the gravel.
“We had really great car speed but Peter drove a great race. We’ll fight in the last one.”
Race 3 of the Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship gets underway at 3:10 pm local time with a 12-lap feature.